Moncofa is synonymous with the sea, beaches and sunbathing. It is listening to the waves breaking softly against the shore as the gentle sea breeze caresses your sun-kissed face. It is the time and place to let yourself be carried away by your senses. Along its 6 kilometres of coastline, Moncofa offers 16 different beaches – some of which are sandy, some of which are pebbly. There are urban beaches such as the Pedraroja, Grau and Masbo, which offer long stretches of water that are ideal for all kinds of water sports. There are also more peaceful beaches in the form of the Belcaire, Beniesma and Estanyol, where visitors can feel at one with nature as they bathe in the crystal clear waters that lap upon the shore. These are places in which you can feel totally free, with nothing but blue water on the horizon.
Santa María Magdalena hermitage
The eastwards-facing Santa María Magdalena Hermitage, a symbol of the former maritime settlement of El Grao, is located around 400 metres from the beach. According to documentary evidence, it was constructed to pay homage to the arrival of the model of Santa María Magdalena by sea. The town’s festival, which has been celebrated for more than 500 years, is held on 23 July, with the disembarkment of the Patron Saint being a key event. The hermitage was built on the ruins of an ancient Arab ribat, which is close to the location at which a peace treaty was signed between Christians and Saracens in 1608 which brought an end to the reconquista. Some documentary evidence suggests that a lantern was hung from the main façade, which served to guide fishermen who were sailing on the high seas.
Santa María Magdalena parish church
In 1329, Alfonso IV of Aragón granted the guardians of Gilabert of Centelles, heir to the Lordship of Nules, the power to allocate land in Moncofa to build a church and orchard for the parish priest. The current church was built in 1698 upon the remains of a smaller church that was constructed in 1329. The new church was a response to the architectural tastes of the time, representing the transition between Baroque and the Valencian neoclassical style. It has a central nave and some smaller lateral naves, which are home to 6 small altars bearing the images of Santa María Magdalena, the Immaculate Conception, San Isidro, Santo Sepulcro, Christ’s Agony and Jesus of Nazareth, amongst others. The main altar was finished in 1798 with a spectacular barrel vault coffered ceiling, with a painted medallion depicting the exaltation of María Magdalena. The main baroque altarpiece is dominated by the image of Santa María Magdalena within a niche, flanked by two wood-carved Corinthian column and exquisite floral motifs which make the Santa María Magdalena parish church a unique example of baroque architecture with a neoclassical twist.
The Estanyol Beach is the southernmost beach in Moncofa. Along this gently sloping 900-metre stretch of sand, visitors will find the remains of the old marshland besides the small El Estanyol lake (which lends the beach its name) in addition to areas of ecological interest such as the flora micro-reserve. These areas are ideal for the practice of cast net fishing and casting rod fishing. Lying close to the town of Xilxes, it is a wide and peaceful beach which gives visitors the opportunity to feel at one with nature.
The area of Beniesma has played a key role in Moncofa’s history. Not only was a watchtower built there in the 16th century which helped to protect the town from white-sailed Berber pirates, but large amounts of commercial activity involving imported goods also took place there. Nowadays, the planned development of a footbridge and the project to regenerate its coastline make it one of the beaches with the greatest potential in the local area. This stretch of coastline is home to remains of an ancient tower, steep cliffs, pebbled beaches and sandy coves.
Located in the Tamarit district, the Belcaire Beach bears the name of the river that flows into this stretch of water, the Belcaire river, which was once a natural outlet to the sea from one part of the Sierra de Espadán. Many years ago this beach served as a makeshift pier, used by merchants to export many locally-produced products to Rome. One such example of these exported goods was figs in ‘coffini’, from which some scholars believe the name ‘Moncofa’ derives. The beach is currently renowned for its wide range of chiringuito beach bars, which are frequented by hundreds of young people who come to the coast to enjoy the warm summer nights by the sea. There are also plans to build modern facilities and a water sports marina in the future, thus recovering the area’s ancestral function as a pier.
The Grau Beach was the area’s first urbanised beach, as it was the closest one to Moncofa. It was previously inhabited by fishing families and families from the region who spent the summer in the town to enjoy its quiet beaches and the summer festivities. It currently boasts all the amenities of a Blue Flag beach and hosts various cultural and sporting events throughout the year, such as the Disembarkment of the Patron Saint festivity on 23 July and the Banderes Blaves swimming race. The El Grau beach is split into 6 smaller beaches as well as various seafront squares and green spaces. It is renowned for its network of viewpoints, which are the perfect place to watch the sun rise slowly above the sea with your loved ones.
Brimming with tamarinds and palm trees, the Masbo Beach is an oasis on the shores of the Mediterranean. Its name derives from that of a freshwater lake that once occupied the inland part of its course, which has since been channelled by the Masbo canal. Part of the beach was once occupied by the former Moncofa Camp Site, which was a popular summer holiday destination for many international tourists during the 1970s. Nowadays, it is a modern tourist destination with wide avenues, multiple sports facilities and a vast range of green areas, meaning there will be something for everyone who chooses to spend their holidays in the area.
The name of this beach derives from the smooth, brownish-red pebbles that were once found in the northern part of the Moncofa coastline. Nowadays, it is a privileged area in which holidaymakers can enjoy a peaceful environment with the finest amenities. Lying north of the breakwaters, the 550-metre Pedraroja Beach is split into three small coves. It is located in an easily accessible part of the Valencian Community which offers surveillance areas, lifeguard stations and sports facilities on the shores of the Mediterranean.
In the coastal areas of southern Castelló, whether they are sandy or pebbles and gravel beaches, such as those of Moncofa, or in the marshes and humid areas common to these municipalities, you can see a multitude of birds of very diverse families, adapted to life in different ecosystems that are increasingly scarce. They are shelters for resident and nesting waterfowl that spend their breeding period here in the spring and summer months. They are also key points for many migratory birds, which rest here before or after crossing the Mediterranean on their long journeys between Africa and Europe.